Written in Hillhouse’s strong poetic voice, With Grace spins a magic-laden story of the universal battle between good and evil. But it is far from ordinary. An involved tale, With Grace takes the reader on a series of twists and turns as Hillhouse explores the limits of human capacity for tolerance and meanness.
Hillhouse skilfully evokes her Caribbean setting and the illustrations, beautifully painted by Barbadian illustrator Cherise Harris, complete the illusion.
Readers, children and adults alike, will be swept away into this fairy-tale and hold their breaths in anticipation of where the story will take them next.
In Dreams Beyond the Shore we find seventeen year old Chelsea at a crossroads in her life, left to decide whether to be the dutiful daughter her politician father expects her to be or to follow her own dreams to be a writer. Dreams Beyond the Shore is the winner of the 2016 Burt Award for Caribbean Literature Continue reading “YA Review -Dreams Beyond the Shore”
Sixteen-year-old Liana is a student at a boarding school in northern Pakistan when religious extremists attack and capture several students. She manages to escape and then, along with one of her teachers, she executes a dangerous plan to rescue her classmates.
I got my copy of Liana’s Dance on NetGalley and gave it three stars.
Continue reading “YA-Review Liana’s Dance”
Mara was born and raised on Tombaugh, a space station inhabited only by the brightest and best humans and where these humans live uncontaminated by earth’s gravity, sun, and polluted atmosphere. So she’s very unhappy when her parents force her to spend time with her aunt, uncle, and cousin on Earth, or ‘Dirt,’ as it’s called on Tombaugh. Continue reading “YA Review – Down to Dirt (Dirt and Stars Book 1)”
No, I’m not reviewing my own book. I just received the Kirkus review of Barberry Hill and was quite pleased with the reviewer’s thoughtful comments. I glowed on reading “She skillfully captures Jaden’s grief, anxiety, feelings of abandonment, fear, and other stormy emotions, as well as the rhythms of friendship and dialogue among teenage boys….
“Fresh, well-described setting and vibrant characters, with one or two missteps.”
The reviewer articulated what he/she saw as the missteps but you’ll have to read the full Kirkus review to see those!
When eleven year old Flavia discovers a man dying in her back yard she finds herself in the middle of a dangerous search to discover the killer. This is not a quick read. The author lays out scene-an estate in a small rural town in Britain in 1950- and plot at a measured pace and in great detail. Continue reading “The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie – Review”
I must confess I don’t watch a lot of movies, I much prefer to read a book. However, I was intrigued by the preview of this movie and I am a big fan of David Oyelowo (sigh).
I found the story fascinating. A true story in which the marriage between Prince Seretse Khama of Botswana and a white Londoner is thwarted by the British government as they try to curry favor with the South African government and maintain their supply of that country’s minerals. After I watched the movie I did some research on the history of Botswana to try to separate fact from fiction. I wish I could say that the truth of the complicity and greed of these larger nations was shocking but I realised that the emotions I was feeling were the same emotions my grand children will feel when they learn the motives behind many of the decisions being made in the US government today.
My research left me impressed with Prince Seretse Khama, who was commended highly by the likes of Nelson Mandela for his role in keeping Botswana independent of South Africa and free of apartheid. He ended the royal succession and peacefully instituted democracy in his country. He was not a particularly prolific orator which may be part of the reason that his deeds remain in obscurity.
Frankly, I thought that the movie was pretty awful. They were not able to properly convey the passage of time and so the ten plus years it took for Seretse’s situation to be resolved felt like a much shorter time. Even the courtship between Seretse and his wife Ruth was made to feel like a whirlwind courtship when in fact it took place over a period of a year. In addition, although the movie was set partially in Botswana there were only five black characters with speaking parts–Seretse, a friend of Seretse’s in London, his uncle, the uncle’s wife, and Seretse’s sister. The rest of the Botswana people seemed relegated to a single mass moving with one mind.
While I don’t recommend the movie, if it will encourage more people to research the history of Botswana then it may be worth a watch.
I received this book free on NetGalley.
Theo is one of the lucky ones. Rescued from the midst of the Rwanda genocide by an Irish humanitarian, he’s raised in Dublin from the age of seven. He never forgives himself for his father’s actions in the war and even as he puts a face on trying to fit in to life in Dublin he is careless with the gift he’s been given perhaps because he’s not sure he deserves it.
Brimming with beautifully crafted and thoughtful imagery, Rain Falls on Everyone begins with Theo running from the law after killing a man. It then dips back to the events leading up to that night. At first the author weaves a thread of suspense so tight that readers will be on the edge of their seats hesitating to turn the page tor fear of the terrible judgement we know must be delivered on Theo. He’s a dark character, scarred and flawed but so honest with himself and loyal in his dealings with others that it’s impossible not to care about him. And as the story progresses, it’s clear, despite the slow and steady pace of the writing, Theo’s life is a runaway train minutes from derailment.
When Theo meets Deidre, a mother of three who works at the same place Theo does, the author begins to alternate the narrative between these two main characters. This is reasonable, after all it’s Deidre’s abusive husband whom Theo kills. Before the murder, Deidre’s life becomes entangled with Theo’s in ways that the characters themselves are not aware. Some of the connections seemed a bit contrived but that does not really detract from the story. While Deidre’s story is compelling, I found myself waiting to get past the sections told in her point of view and looking forward to hearing Theo’s voice once more.
Thoughtful readers may read wondering how the author will end this tale of so much sadness. The ending of Rain Falls on Everyone is satisfying to some extent. Theo was rescued by whites as a child and they continue to be his ‘saviour’ to the end, giving him the guidance he needs to get some closure. But he does achieve enough of his growth through his own self searching and again readers will likely forgive the gratuitous manner by which he comes by some of his maturity.
Seventeen year old Marsha and June flee their remote home in the village of Egypt, on the Caribbean island of Trinidad after Marva accidentally kills their abusive father. This begins a journey for Marva in which she plots and executes her main goal-to protect her sister from further harm. Marva is strong, resourceful, yet vulnerable, a well-rounded character.
Don’t be fooled by the age of the main character, this is a book for adults. Coming Out of Egypt gives equal billing to Cicely, a teacher with a misty past of her own who befriends the girls while falling in love with the very detective assigned to uncover the truth about the death of Marva’s father. His conviction that the girls know more about their father’s death drives a wedge between him and Cicely.
There’s much to recommend in Coming Out of Egypt, with its large and varied cast of characters. Set in Trinidad in 1983, I believe, the book deals with the ongoing problem of familial sexual abuse, the dirth of laws back then to protect the abused, and the stigma (double punishment) this abuse places on the victims. The adult characters lament the absence of laws but it would have been nice to see them try to do something to change the laws…Marva would have… perhaps in book two.
The lead adult characters were both expats, an interesting choice by the author. It disturbed me a little and I tried not to read it as a commentary on the inability of our own Caribbean people to reach out to two young people in need.
I found June’s evolution from the frightened, withdrawn thirteen year old into the more engaging young lady she becomes a bit rapid but otherwise the characters were believable and engaging.
The main characters all come to know God and gather strength from this part of their journey, a natural progression in a Caribbean setting. The author does not present this transformation as a crutch, however, the characters still must face and solve their problems.
Coming Out of Egypt ends without the full resolution of the central issue which was a bit disappointing. There’s a second book in which you can continue to follow the journey.
CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS
Now in its fifth year, the Burt Award for Caribbean Literature recognizes up to three English-language literary works for young adults (aged 12 through 18) written by Caribbean authors.
CaribbeanReads has had the pleasure of publishing two Burt Award winners, 2nd place winner in 2014 Musical Youth by Joanne C. Hillhouse and 3rd place winner in 2016 The Protectors’ Pledge by Danielle Y. C. McClean.
This year, the winning title will be awarded $10,000 CDN, and two finalists will be awarded $2,000 CDN each.
Publishers of winning titles will be awarded a guaranteed purchase of up to 2,500 copies, which will be donated to schools, libraries, and literacy organizations throughout the region. To date, more than 22,000 copies of winning books have made their way into the hands of Caribbean youth.
Published books, previously self-published books, and unpublished manuscripts are eligible for the award. Eligible books and unpublished manuscripts may be submitted to the Bocas Lit Fest by publishers registered and operating in the Caribbean. Unpublished manuscripts or previously self-published books may be submitted by authors directly to the Bocas Lit Fest.
Books published between 1 November 2016 and 31 October 2017 and eligible manuscripts must be received at the office of the Bocas Lit Fest by 31 October 2017.
See attached for the official 2018 guidelines and entry form. More information at http://www.bocaslitfest.com/2018/burt-award/